With our celebration dinner quickly approaching, it’s time to give a preview of the great work of our winners. To start, here’s a look at the restaurant Maribelle’s and chef Mike Florea:
The writer’s first experience at Maribelle’s was at one of the quarterly “Food Fights,” a chopped-style competition between anyone willing to put their name in a pot and pony up $10. This very entertaining community event not only highlights the talents of the randomly-selected six chefs, but also the excellent locally-sourced ingredients that are selected for the mystery baskets. Many articles have been written about Food Fight (just google it), so we won’t go into that here, but the event is a great representation of what Maribelle’s and Chef Mike Florea are all about: good food, good community, and continually raising the bar of what is possible for both.
Maribelle’s has been an institution in Oakley since 2012, a move from its original location on Riverside Drive. Their goal in moving to the new space was to have an open kitchen where they could be completely transparent about what they were doing. It’s a wonderful experience for the patrons to see each dish carefully crafted with fresh-from-the-farm meat and produce. Sourcing “loakley” produced ingredients and supporting “loakley” owned businesses is fundamental to Maribelle’s approach, as they believe that “buying local helps support our communities and the business and farm owners that take great pride in producing ingredients and food made with love.” This statement truly sums up what Slow Food is all about – delicious food (good) produced in a way that supports the people that make it (fair) and the environment in which they operate (clean).
To quote Florea: “We are honored that this [Snail of Approval] and Maribelle’s fall into the same category. We don’t do this for the awards. We do this because it is right.”